Maria Chilar began working as a professional freelance photographer in 2017 and is the photographer for many of the photos included in Women in Business. (Photo - Justin Lee)

Maria Cihlar: Capturing the best in people

She is a freelance photographer in Kelowna and the artist behind the photos for Women in Business

Editor’s note: In 2020 it should be no surprise that more and more woman hold positions of power. Whether it’s business, politics, sports or the non-profit sector, woman continue to achieve new milestones. This story is part of a series of stories highlighting 16 women in Kelowna who are leaders in their fields. You can read all of their stories in our annual publication called Women in Business in the Feb. 28 issue of Kelowna Capital News.

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For many people, capturing the perfect photo can be a difficult task, especially if you lack formal training, but for one individual in the Okanagan, that skill is almost second nature.

Growing up in the Okanagan, Maria Cihlar describes being obsessed with shooting film from an early age, documenting her life through the lens of her camera, beginning at the age of 10.

After gaining some experience working with traditional film, she bought her first digital camera a few years later and hasn’t looked back since.

“When I got my first digital camera I brought that everywhere with me,” said Cihlar.

“I eventually progressed and bought better gear and noticed that photography not only makes me happy, but it made others around me happy. So, I expanded more into people photography, whereas before I focused more on nature and outdoor photography.”

Since she began working as a professional freelance photographer in 2017, Cihlar has made a point to network in the community, growing her business and making a name for herself as one of the most sought out photographers in the Okanagan. Her dedication and ability to capture the best in people is a skill that does not go unnoticed in her work.

“I think the most rewarding thing for me is making people see themselves in a nicer light,” said Cihlar.

“On a general basis most people do not like their photo being taken, or they’ll say they’re not photogenic. So, to be able to capture a side of them that they maybe haven’t seen is amazing. I love when people say ‘these photos are amazing and I love these moments and I love that you captured this.’ That’s a huge reason why I do it.”

Cihlar has no formal training, honing her craft by learning from trial and error and tutorials, as well as other local photographers. She chooses to solely shoot in natural light and said her favourite time to shoot is during hikes, admitting she’s more than willing to lug a bunch of heavy gear up the mountain to capture the perfect shot.

On a professional level, she truly enjoys taking family photos.

“There’s something about the chaos of people trying to get family photos together,” she chuckled.

Over the past few weeks, Cihlar has partnered with Kelowna Capital News for its Women in Business feature, showcasing some of the leading business professionals in the Okanagan through her photography. It’s a change of work that she’s enjoyed immensely.

“It’s really amazing to see boss-women that have all done something extraordinary for themselves and for the community, but have done it in many different ways,” she said.

“It’s really cool to see their success and progress to how they’ve got there.”

To see photos from Cihlar’s portfolio, visit her Instagram page at @kitkaphoto.

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